The Civil Rights Movement From Alabama… to Alaska
Question of the Day: What images come to mind when you think of Civil Rights ?
Civil Rights in the South- A Timeline • After the Civil War, many African Americans migrated to northern cities. • During World War II, African Americans provided manpower and labor in factories and in the war itself.
In 1954, the Supreme Court made their unanimous decision that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
1955- • Thousands of African Americans participate in the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott to protest discrimination in public transportation.
Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Icon • The arrest of Rosa Parks touched off the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott.
1957- • President Eisenhower sends troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to facilitate integration at Central High School.
1961- • Freedom Riders challenge segregation on interstate busses. 1964- • Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964
From South to…North: Alaska’s Role • One may initially think Alaska might be as far removed from the American Civil Rights movement as you can get…but nothing could be farther from the truth! • As racial tensions occurred between Blacks and Whites in the South, tensions also occurred in Alaska, between Natives and Whites.
Racial segregation between Natives and Whites took place in Alaska well before WWII. • Natives were refused the right to vote, home ownership, and were forced to send their children to separate schools.
Numerous bars, restaurants, and hotels in Alaskan communities posted signs that said “No Natives Allowed” or restricted Natives to areas with signs saying “Natives Only”
1944: Nome, Alaska • 11 years before Rosa Parks Alabama bus protest, police arrest 17-year old Native, Alberta Schenck, for refusing to give up her seat in the segregated movie theater.
Civil Rights Crusaders in Alaska: • Alaska Governor Ernest Gruening. • Native Rights advocates Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich.
Civil Rights Crusaders in Alaska: • The Alaska Native Brotherhood was established in 1912 to work for the rights of Indians in America. • The ANB was influential in making progress in Civil Rights for Natives. Photo by E.W. Merrill that appeared in the February 1916 edition of "The Verstovian" newspaper. Courtesy of The Stratton Library, Sheldon Jackson College, Sitka, Alaska.
Creating the Alaskan Civil Rights Act • Roy Peratrovich, president of the ANB, sat down with Gruening to work out a strategy. Anthony Dimond, Alaska’s representative to the U.S. House, supplied sample bills and information to help frame legislation.
Creating the Alaskan Civil Rights Act • The bill was introduced into the state legislature in 1943 and defeated after a bitter floor fight. • The law finally was enacted in 1945 after three ANB members were elected to the legislature.